Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Odds And Ends

I'm going to dump a few links here that neither deserve a post of their own nor dovetail into some grand narrative. I am concerned about the talent shortage in the nuclear industry. Shrinking labor pools are a big drag on the Rust Belt renaissance. Where is Westinghouse going to find all the workers it needs to fulfill contracts with China and India?

I'm probably making too much of the numbers, but I find the disparity between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh interesting:

MNI's city data shows Philadelphia is the state's top city for manufacturing employment, home to 48,608 jobs, with jobs down 5 percent over the year. Second-ranked Pittsburgh accounts for 35,399 jobs, with employment down 2.1 percent over the past 12 months. York is home to 24,350 industrial jobs, down 5.5 percent over the year, while Erie accounts for 21,616 jobs, down 2.8 percent. Allentown is home to 19,379, down 1.6 percent over the past 12 months.

The decline of manufacturing is notably less than that of Philadelphia. There is enough of a difference to wonder why this is so.

The last tidbit comes from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The career trajectory of Smokey Vandergrift caught my eye:

Steamboat’s old-timers live on, thanks to Smokey. He spent 30 years filming legendary figures like Gordy Wren and Skeeter Werner, and produced a stack of documentaries capturing local history. “History was my salvation, in a lot of ways,” says Smokey, 64. As a student at Denver University, he took history classes to keep his GPA from sinking. But, he confesses, “I never knew I would use it for much of anything until I came here.”

That was in 1979. By then, he’d blown his hearing working in a Pittsburgh steel mill, completed degrees in sociology and forestry, earned a nickname (a campfire cinder ignited his cowboy hat), and worked as a ranger at Denali and Mesa Verde National Parks. When he took a marketing position at the Steamboat Ski Area, video was the hot new technology, and Smokey found himself in the movie business.

That's quite a story for a blue collar worker, but I suspect it isn't that rare for someone from Pittsburgh.

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